Soldiers happy to be going home

The 11 PNG Defence Force officers who were granted bail this morning by the Military Court are happy to finally be going home to their families.

That’s after two weeks of detention at the Military Police holding facility.

Speaking to the media soon after the court’s decision on behalf of the troops, their commanding officer , Major Benjamin Edimani said his troops were thankfull for the court’s decision.

“At least the guys can now go back to their families. We are happy at least first thing has gone out of the way (securing bail).

“At least they can relax with their families while we look forward to the full hearing which is at a later stage,” Major Edimani said.

All 11 officers were granted bail of K1, 500 this morning after they were forcefully flown out of Komo on Dec 28, 2015.

They were formally charged on Dec 31 under section 55 of the PNG Defence Force Act for mutiny and also charged for misconduct on operational service under section 58 of the PNG Defence Force Act.

This was a result of the troops defying orders from the Defence Force headquarters since August 17, 2015 to withdraw their operation in Komo.

The officers instead went to the National Court and succeeded in obtaining restraining orders on Nov 24 against the Defence Force from recalling them.

They filed a notice of motion to restrain the state recalling them until all their outstanding allowances as well as payments to service providers are met. This application went in their favour.

However on December 22, two of their comrades were killed in Komo by locals who were involved in a tribal fight within the vicinity of the camp.

Police reports say it is alleged they were killed after they were mistaken by the locals to be from the opposing tribe.

They will return for Court Martial on February 1 for the substantive hearing after bail was granted today.

Photo: Major Edimani speaking to his troops after they were granted bail today.

Sally Pokiton